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Parents invited to help plan safe walking routes to East Jordan schools

EAST JORDAN – While 70 percent of today's parents used to walk or bicycle to school when they were kids, only 18 percent of their children now walk or bike to school, according to a recent national survey. Health problems arising from an overall reduction in physical activity and an increase in childhood obesity have prompted school and city officials to partner with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan in bringing the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to East Jordan. A “walking audit” is scheduled for Tuesday, November 27 at 2pm, rain or shine. Parents and other residents are encouraged to meet with officials at East Jordan Elementary School, where the audit will begin. Check-in is at the school's main office. No experience is necessary for participation.

“This program has proven to be highly successful in other communities, including Charlevoix,” said Jim Harrington, Building Healthy Communities Consultant for the Health Department. “It promotes health and safety among elementary and middle school students, addresses traffic and pedestrian concerns, and provides a solid platform for collaboration among parents, school administrators and city officials.”

Harrington added that Tuesday's walking audit will take about two hours, including a short training session and a discussion of potential routes, and the results will be used to create a SRTS Action Plan for East Jordan. “We want the community – parents, especially – to be involved at every stage,” he said. “The school district and the city are fully supportive of the Safe Routes program, and they will be great partners in this effort.”

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information on Tuesday's walking audit, or on the Safe Routes to School program, contact Harrington directly at (989) 619-4204 or